Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Greetings from GRAAM

I am working on my project with EDI under the supervision of Dr. Basavaraju and Dr. Siddappa in the Grassroots Research And Advocacy Movement (GRAAM) office. My task is to create various documents (study briefs, policy briefs, and fact sheets) which GRAAM can use to advocate for better inclusion of people with disabilities (PWD) into the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) to the Karnataka State Government. MNREGA guarantees 100 days of paid work to eligible rural households whose adult members volunteer to do ecologically-focused manual labor projects. The act intends to provide supplemental wages to poor rural families, by encouraging them to self-identify as jobseekers. The theory is that MNREGA will result in rural economic growth and also increased democratic governance, as the village leaders play a major role in implementing the work projects.

Due to a variety of socio-cultural factors, people with disabilities are among the most economically vulnerable, especially in rural areas. GRAAM recently conducted a pilot study in the Kolar District of Karnataka to see if PWD are able to benefit from MNREGA jobs, and if not, what barriers to participation exist. Nearly 454 PWD were surveyed, along with their family members and village leaders, so GRAAM has a wealth of data to interpret. The team is working on publishing a full research report, but also needs concise documents to present to policymakers to improve conditions for PWD. This is where my attention is focused. 

I am very happy to be working with the GRAAM team. I am inspired by the intentionality of focusing on rural economic development—especially for people with disabilities— as a humanitarian, poverty alleviation endeavor. By contributing to these documents for policy advocacy, I feel that I may be able to help affect positive change. 

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